Looking back on a historic season for Toronto Wolfpack and the sport of rugby league, it is clear to see that the emergence of the League 1 champions has been a huge success, both with the Canadian public and everyone involved with the club.
No one knew how this journey would pan out or how the club would be received when they first touched down on Canadian soil all those months ago to take on Oxford RLFC, but the reaction has made the players and coaches feel right at home.
This is partly down to the performances of the club on the field, which have generated sustained excitement and intrigue around the city to see Lamport Stadium rocking on game day week in week out.
Having the responsibility of exposing people to a previously unknown sport carries a lot of pressure, but, it is something the Wolfpack have revelled in this year. The fans have welcomed the team with open arms, resulting in big crowds that have only continued to build as the season progressed and these fledgling rugby league viewers were treated to fast paced, free flowing rugby on every occasion.
Toronto finished the 2017 unbeaten at Lamport Stadium, putting an exclamation mark on the force they have become in Canada and the fact that they are here to stay; something that skipper and League 1 player of the year Craig Hall was keen to point out as the long challenging trips to Canada served only to bring the playing group closer together:
“When we come over here (Canada) everyone is together and you feel more of a tight group when we come here. These games are our home games so we don’t want to be losing them,” he said.
Similarly, Wolfpack boss Paul Rowley is extremely happy with the bond his side have struck up with the people of Toronto and the reputation they have built for themselves in the game despite the majority of the squad being based in the UK:
“It definitely feels like home now. It’s like our spiritual home which feels good and teams don’t want to come over to Toronto and play us on our home ground and that feels good as well,” he said.